Cayman Carnival Batabano goes out on a high note

Joe Shooman and Stuart Wilson

For many hundreds of revellers and
marchers, Cayman Carnival Batabano, this year marked a high point in the
festival’s brief history.

With all the pageantry, colour and
showmanship of carnivals the world-over, Batabano is Cayman’s own home-grown
carnival and the crowds appreciate it.

With plenty to see and experience
Cayman danced, ate and whined for several weeks. With a rainbow of nations
either marching or watching the festivities Batabano was all about love and
unity: a celebration of the Islands’ diversity.

Swanky mass band treats kids

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The Swanky Mas Band hosted a
pre-Batabano Fete at Camana Bay on Wednesday, 28 April.

The evening, which is in its second
year, was a chance for youngsters to enjoy the festival in an age-appropriate
setting with no alcoholic beverages.

Entertainment was provided by Earl
LaPierre and the Panoramers, who bedazzled onlookers with their energetic
renditions of old calypso classics.

Swanky Mas Band is an official
group that dances during the Batabano Festivities.

Organisers said that in addition to
the parade held each year for the children, they wanted to add another activity
that would let them participate.

Steel Pan empressario and teacher Earl
LaPierre said: “It was good for the youngsters to be exposed to the
blockorama-style performance like we had… 
and it is equally important that the students who learn the art form
have a forum to express themselves.

“The evening was for the kids and
to expose them to the sights and sounds of carnival,” he added.

Cocktail Competition

Wednesday, 28 April


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Artistry, skill and a lot of good
old fashioned fun were on show at theAppleton/Jacques
Scott Cocktail competition at Vivendi, Thursday, 29 April.

The venue was bedecked in a variety
of neon colour, with everything from glowing top hat-shaped ice buckets to
backlit cocktail bars making for a snazzy ambience.

A series of ever-more skilful
bartenders from various Cayman Islands bars and restaurants displayed their
talents, creating complex and delicious drinks from a multitude of ingredients.

There were things done with
strawberries and herbs that were unusual as the mixologists vied for the
victory that would take them to Jamaica and an international competition.

New friends and old bonded over the
virtues of the various creations, with attendees marking their favourites on a
special form.

Barnaby Richardson of Jacques Scott
thought the event was a winner.

He said: “For us it was the best
attended, best quality cocktail competition on the island. The standard was so
high that we are actually taking three bartenders rather than one.”

An elegant cameo by a lone
performer onstage added to the night’s intrigue; dressed in a harlequin costume
and mask she played the violin and danced across the stage. It was only towards
the end that it was revealed that in fact she had her back to the audience
throughout. A great piece of performance art, its subtly matched the wonderful
touches from the competing bartenders.

Competition winners

1st Steve Fanning – Jet
nightclub (pictured)

2nd Jono Firstbrook – Attic

3rd Lachlan Morris – Jet

Cayman Carnival Batabano

Saturday, 1 May


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After all the preamble, the months
of work and the weeks of excitement, the main event finally arrived.

To mark the significance of the
occasion, the sun blazed down with more fervour than any time this year so far,
hitting the mid-90s even whilst the floats and the masqueraders limbered up for
their 3pm start.

Resplendent in her gold,
sun-goddess get-up, Donna Myrie-Stephen and the Carol Depizza led the procession
down Harquail Drive. Mrs. Depizza is a Trinidadian who now lives in Toronto,
Canada and attends Batabano every year.

Swanky International’s band and
float attracted a huge following as usual, with LIME’s own band also featuring
strongly. The participants, daring and delightful in their shimmering costumes,
were breathing, living, dancing proof of the visceral joy of the dance as it
wound and whined its way down North Church Street toward Carnival Central – the
parking lot of the library.

It was there that the winners were
announced, with Swanky picking up several gongs including Best Band (Mask A
Raid), Best Individual Male (Mask of Zorro) and Best Individual Female (Geisha

Second in the best band competition
was Lime Explosion and a Reba Dilbert Creation – A Caymanian Legacy was third.

Panoramers took the gong for best
steel band with Pandemix second. Ah Sukar Warriors won best small band and
spirit of Batabano.

The party, of course, had only just
started and the stage at Carnival Central was soon blasting out soca tunes to
get even the tiredest hips working again. For sustenance, a variety of
brilliant local food was on sale and the artistry was also on show with Art in
the Heart of George Town, where local artists and craftspeople showed off their

The celebrations continued until
midnight when exhausted revellers finally took the opportunity to cool down,
chill out and reflect on another successful carnival.

Batabano song contest winner crowned


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The Batabano Song Contest went down
in fine fashion on Friday, 30 April, according to organisers.

Several contestants participated in
the competition, which boasted a first place prize of $1,000.

Kenroy Williams took home this
honour, as well as a recording contract to produce his song at Hopscotch

Second place went to Corey Allenger,
who gave the crowd a great performance in addition to his well- written piece.

Third place in this year’s Batabano
song competition went to Dub Six, a group of talented musicians from West Bay.

The competition saw entries that
ranged all the way from calypso, which ultimately was the winner of the
competition, to a rap song, which took home the third place honour.

Judges on the night included Cayman
Music and Entertainment Association officials Spencer Merren, Mona Lisa
Tatum-Watler and Blake Hurlston.

President of the Music Association,
Jean Eric Smith noted: “We are taking small steps in the music industry in
Cayman and with the growth of this and the Pirates Week National Song
Competition we are sending a message.

“The prize money has also
increased, making the contests more attractive and boosting their clout,” he

Mr. Smith added that next year all
the songs for the Batabano song competition had to be in the style of calypso.

He said because of the specific
appeal of Batabano, organisers thought it best to keep the format of the
competition uniform.

The music association donated
$1,000 toward the prize money for the contest.


Carnival great success for sponsors


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Cayman Carnival Batabano was a
great success for spectators, participants and sponsors.

Julie Hutton, marketing manager of
presenting sponsors LIME, said that this year’s event had really hit the mark.

“The parade was fantastic, started
on time and although it was hot on the road, the masqueraders and other
participants had a wonderful time,” she said, noting that although temperatures
were in the 90s the energy of the event was undiminished.

Far and wide

The carnival, she said, is getting
lots of attention from people outside Cayman, with reporters and photographers
coming from far and wide to enjoy the festivities.

“It was great to see overseas media
here covering the event and giving the Cayman Islands exposure. 

“This is the way to grow the
carnival.  In the LIME band I had people who had travelled down
specifically to participate,” continued Ms Hutton.

The marketing manager said that the
event had given everybody a boost and the great attendance had been very
pleasing as had the atmosphere.

“From a sponsor’s perspective this
was a great Batabano for us.  The feeling on the road was that people had
come out to celebrate. For many it has been a tough year, including my
colleagues at LIME, so it was a chance to let our hair down and

“There seemed to be more people
than ever in town and it was a really great vibe as we hit George Town,” she


The huge amount of planning and
pre-event organisation for Cayman Carnival Batabano is something that many people
never see. This year’s celebrations showed that the late nights, extra hours
and occasional stresses were all worth it in the end, particularly when the
younger generation are given their first taste of the celebration.

“My favourite moments are always
making the kids smile when you give them a string of beads or a waver or some
other giveaway, and to see their faces when they see all the pretty costumes
and want their photograph taken with the masqueraders,” said the marketing

The new generation are already
getting a taste for it and with everyone pulling together, including a host of
local businesses that supported the event, the future looks brilliant and
bright for Batabano. The countdown to 2011 starts here.


Revellers were out in force and dressed to the nines.
Photo: Justin Uzzell